Paul Reaney

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Paul Reaney bigraphy, stories - English footballer

Paul Reaney : biography

22 October 1944 –

Paul Reaney (born 22 October 1944 in Fulham, London) is a former footballer for Leeds United, Bradford City and England, primarily as a right sided full-back.

Honours

Leeds United
  • Football League First Division: winner (2): 1968-69, 1973-74, runners-up: (5): 1964-65, 1965-66, 1969-70, 1970-71, 1971-72
  • Football League Second Division: winner (1): 1963-64
  • FA Cup: winner (1): 1972, runners-up (2): 1965, 1973
  • Football League Cup: winner (1): 1968
  • FA Charity Shield: winner (1): 1969, runners-up (1): 1974
  • Inter-Cities Fairs Cup: winner (2): 1968, 1971, runners-up (1): 1967
  • European Cup Winners’ Cup: runners-up (1): 1973
  • European Cup: runners-up (1): 1975

Leeds United

He moved to West Yorkshire from London as a child and left school at 15. He was briefly a car mechanic before Don Revie signed him for Leeds as an apprentice. Reaney made his professional debut shortly before his 18th birthday, and went on to make 35 League appearances in his first season, and was part of the team which won the Second Division in 1964.

In the 1964-65 season Reaney missed just one League game, and scored the first of his League goals as Leeds challenged for both the League championship and FA Cup; however, Leeds lost out on both trophies, with Manchester United winning the title, whilst Liverpool won the FA Cup.

Reaney quickly earned a reputation as a fiercely competitive, disciplined defender, capable of closing out the most talented of attackers – George Best rated Reaney as one the two best defenders he played against.

In 1968 Leeds won the League Cup and the Fairs Cup, and in 1969 they won the League championship. Leeds progressed in 1970 towards a "treble" of League championship, FA Cup and European Cup, but a broken leg suffered in a game against West Ham United meant that he missed the run-in to the end of the season – a factor that contributed to Leeds missing out on all three trophies. In addition, the broken leg meant that Reaney missed the summer’s World Cup in Mexico.

He eventually returned in the 1970-71 season to make 18 League appearances and be part of the team which won its second Fairs Cup, but which missed out on the League championship again. In the 1971-72 season he was part of the team that won the FA Cup, but which missed out the League Championship yet again. The following season saw more disappointment for Reaney as Leeds lost the FA Cup final to Sunderland and a controversial European Cup Winners Cup final to A.C. Milan.

Reaney’s career at Leeds passed 500 appearances in 1974 as Leeds embarked on a 29-match unbeaten start to the season to earn the League title for the second time under Revie, who then left to take over the England job. Reaney was in the team which duly progressed to the European Cup final a year later, but yet again Leeds were defeated.

In 1976 he was granted a testimonial by the club.

Bradford City and Newcastle KB United

Reaney continued to play at Elland Road until 1978 when he was given a free transfer after 745 appearances. He joined neighbours Bradford City and then completed his playing career in Australia with Newcastle KB United.

Post-playing career

Since returning to England from Australia, Reaney has been running coaching sessions during school holidays for children at Potters Leisure Resort in Hopton.

In 1993, burglars broke into Reaney’s home and stole a safe containing his collection of medals, though left behind his trophies, caps and other honours.

International career

In 1968, Reaney won his first England cap when he came on as a substitute in a match against Bulgaria. From that point on, he regularly selected for the England squad (albeit not as first choice fullback) until a broken leg in 1970 prevented him from playing in the 1970 World Cup.

After recovering in 1971, he won a further two England caps.

Reaney’s appearance for England has assumed greater importance in recent years as even though he was regarded as "white" during his playing career, he is viewed by many as "black" or mixed race now. His England debut was nine years before that of Viv Anderson, who is widely credited as the first black player to appear for England.